So how do you get your web site noticed? Last post I focused on getting a good domain name and showing up in search engine results. One of the keys to getting ranked higher in search engine results is to be sure your page is considered “important” by the search engines. When you create a web site and other web sites link to you, the search engines give your web site a higher importance ranking than other similar sites, which moved you up the results ladder. In fact, it even goes one step further: if pages that are themselves ranked high link to you, then you are considered even more important.
So, what can you do to get other web sites to link to you? For starters, link to them! If you are writing regular blog posts, be sure to link to posts from other blogs or web sites that are relevant to what you are talking about. This is the essence of writing a good blog post. When someone links to your blog, you are more inclined to link back to them. How do they know you linked to them? Easy, your blog software tells you. In WordPress, for example, I can go to the “dashboard” and see other posts that have linked to me. I will read them and, if possible, link back to them. If another site is really relevant to what your organization or site is all about, you should also add them to your “blogroll”, a listing of other sites that you find useful or interesting.
Besides linking to others, another important practice is to tag your posts with categories. This has become an important way for the web elite to find posts of interests. Most web tools (again, such as WordPress), allow you to easily categorize your posts. Once your post is categorized, it can get noticed by tools such as Technorati, which tracks blog postings, or other tag surfing engines. I know that this blog has found some readers that way.
There is one last way, of course, to get yourself higher in the search results: pay for it. The search engine companies are more than happy to let you pay for show up in the rankings. When you do so, you show up under “sponsored link”, which may turn people off from your site. This can be an effective way to jumpstart getting your site noticed. The way it works is pretty simple: you tell the search engine how much you are willing to pay every time someone clicks on your sponsored link and they will tell you how high that will put you in the search results. If you are willing to pay the most for your word or phrase, then you appear at the top. You can set a ceiling on the amount your are willing to pay each month so you don’t blow your budget. An example of this would be for the search on “church web site”, which returned three paid searches at the top of the results and many more along the side. Some quick research on Google’s site shows that it would cost $3.80 per click to get the #1 position. This could get quite expensive!
Having people find your site is extremely important, so this “getting noticed” step should not be skipped. It will allow people seeking you out to find you. But what about when they are not seeking you out? Then you have to go find them. I’ll call that “getting networked” and I will write about that in my next post on using Web 2.0 for effective internet ministry.